Doing something of value is a basic motive that drives us in doing pretty much anything in our lives.
Writing is a passion and there is a little art in every piece of content we create, irrelevant of the topic or the reason why we put the words in this sequence on the sheet in front of us. When we talk about blogging, we should consider the value of our texts, especially if we write professionally and there are targets to be reached. Even though blogging has been around for quite awhile, the number of people practicing it who can’t distinguish clearly what is the value of the content they create, how to effectively measure it and boost its engagement is concerningly high.
The art of blogging
Blogging may be considered an art, as it is a way of expression and no matter the topic people write about, they put a little piece of themselves into the materials they are working on. Writers put the words in a certain sequence and structure the information that is contained inside through their own perspective, thus creating a unique material.
Every professional can tell you that writing is the easy part of blogging. The harder one comes with defining the message and pinpointing the kind of value the content brings. The major problem with art and personal expression at all is that, usually, they cannot be interpreted in the same way by everyone or even by the targeted audience, if the message is not presented in an appropriate way. This is why before starting an article, we need to consider a few things such as:
- What are the characteristics of our targeted audience?
- What interests them?
- What value do we, as bloggers, want to bring to them?
By doing so, we will save ourselves time otherwise wasted on unnecessary editing. Further, we will prevent anxiety and disappointment if the published material does not achieve the results we had hoped for during the process of realizing our idea.
Why should we concentrate on value so much?
Blogging is a process of continuous improvement that requires time, dedication and expertise on the topics we cover. For many people, it starts as a hobby that later turns into a secondary source of income and eventually a full-time occupation.
Bringing value to your readers is the only way to make a profession out of blogging. Simply put, if your words lack value for your readers, you won’t be able to build an audience and a community around your writing.
Speaking from the perspective of a journalist who transitioned to blogging, creating a valuable blog article for a specifically segmented audience is much harder than it may seem. For example, when you reflect the news, the way you present the information is pretty simple – deliver the message with maximum clarity and avoid manipulation at all cost.
When I transitioned to professional blogging, the difference became apparent immediately. I started writing in the manner of a reporter, but my target audience’s response was unanticipated. I was writing for a sophisticated audience of project managers in the IT sector, not the masses, and at first, many of the people reading my articles had more expertise than me on the topics I was presenting. As a result, articles that seemed perfect to me, were achieving a lot less engagement and a lower response rate than I hoped. Not to mention my drafts were getting far more edits than I was used to, which was not a pleasant feeling.
The value of a piece of content varies from one person to another
Identifying the value of an article is not always an easy task. Research by the Content Marketing Institute conducted in 2014 shows that roughly half of the B2B bloggers in the United States have trouble pinpointing the value of their content. This is not a surprise because even similar people may find different or no value at all in a given article.
In blogging, the value of an article usually consists of the information that readers take away and can apply at some point. A simple way of creating valuable content is to present actionable advice in a way that is easy to understand by the targeted audience. In other words, offer something that can make a positive impact on the way your readers live or work.
The article should be long enough to go in depth about the topic and yet short enough to keep the reader’s attention up until the end. When planning any form of content, we should be asking ourselves – what will the readers learn from the material and are we going to bring some kind of positive change to their lives with the article we are about to write.
For some topics, the value is easy to point out, while others need deeper consideration
To illustrate the difference, let’s look at the types of projects a tech blogger might undertake. In the first case scenario, she decides to write a review of a certain product. The value for her audience is going to consist of getting to know the advantages and disadvantages of the product, accompanied by advice on whether the product is worth buying, given from a person with first hand experience.
In the second scenario, that same blogger writes an article about a psychological factor connected to the way her readers work. In this case, giving them something of value might prove harder because the reader is provided with subjective advice on a topic that may be related to them.
Knowing that something is valuable is important, knowing exactly how much – even more so
Creating content of value is somewhat easier when you are not keeping up with schedules, because you have freedom to remodel the message of the material as many times as you need, and deliver it only when you have full certainty in its impact on your targeted audience.
Unfortunately, most professional bloggers must adhere to deadlines and maintain a predictable delivery schedule of content to their readers. Even if you know that your content is valuable, you need to know exactly how much and to whom at which time. This will allow you to focus on articles with high value to the majority of the readers and show you how to make more impact with your work on a regular basis. There are many indicators that can help you identify the most valuable pieces of content you create, focused in three categories:
- Engagement metrics
- Social media metrics
- SEO metrics
Among the most important indicators of the value of your content can be found with the help of your website analytics. You do not need to track every single metric that Google provides, but you should target at least a handful of them like page views, time spent on the article, crawl rate, inbound links, and bounce rate.
Social media is of no lesser importance, as it is one of the largest sources of user data in the world. You should be keeping an eye on the reach and engagement of every article you post, as well as the advocacy on your page (comments, participation in polls and, most importantly, feedback).
When referring to SEO, the most important metrics you should follow consistently are your articles’ page rankings in the high-traffic search engines and the keywords that bring visitors to your blog. It is important to know how you rank for words or phrases that are common to the field you write about or the industry you often reference and plan for which ones you will aim to rank better.
Focus on creating more value instead of more volume
To create more valuable content bloggers should have a clear understanding of the details related to the spectrum of topics they cover. By selecting a niche and sticking to it, you will be able to attract more readers with similar interests. This way, you can deliver value to a larger percent of your audience with every post you create. As a result, you will retain a larger part of the visitors that come to your blog.
Focusing on quality instead of quantity will do you a big favor, because when the audience knows that they will get something valuable every time you publish content, they will be eager to read your every word before they’ve even seen the title .
Find an efficient way of working
Last but not least, you need to have an efficient way of work. Blogging is usually not a solo act and we often end up collaborating with different people to be able to consistently create valuable new content and grow the community of peers with similar interests.
The common misconception is that the creative process cannot help but be messy and uneven, that you can’t control inspiration. Although there is some truth to this, a growing number of professional bloggers have been experimenting in developing and adopting process management methods to assess and boost the quality of their work and improve the efficiency of their creative process.
More recently, the Kanban method, typical to the IT and manufacturing industries, has been making its way into the lives of a growing number of professional writers, especially those that specialize in technical blogging. The method began in production, was later adapted for software development, and eventually, started gaining popularity in other professional fields.
It is used to map the workflow of a person or a team on a white board. Each part of the white board represents a typical step of your process, whatever it may be. Tasks are hosted on individual sticky notes that move from the first stage, on the left side of the board, to the final completion stage, on the right side of the board. On the board, you can create a backlog that contains all of the ideas that you generate, but are unable to work on at the moment.
The great thing about Kanban is that it is very simple to apply and yet extremely effective in boosting the efficiency of your creative process because it removes the possibility to lose track of your work and helps you avoid multitasking.
Blogging is a calling, a passion, an art, and a profession for many people across the globe. Creating value should be the main goal of every person who wants to turn their blogging from a hobby into a profession. Learning how to recognize and measure it is of utmost importance to every “pro” out there. Hopefully, by reaching the conclusion of this article, you have been able to find value in this article as well.
Alexander Novkov is Marketing Expert at Kanbanize where he specializes in content marketing and social media. Before getting into the tech world he was an economic reporter for the Bulgarian media OFFNews. Alex is passionate about creative writing and continuous improvement.